family making heart shapes with their hands

Your heart is one of the most important parts of your body, so it’s so key to maintain good habits to keep your heart healthy.

Taking care of your heart will lower your risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.

Here are five ways to keep your heart healthy and happy:

1. Don’t smoke or vape

Smokers are at very high risk for heart disease. Quitting smoking can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Learn about UC Davis Health’s classes to help you quit tobacco

2. Move your body

Exercise has shown to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, control weight, boost your energy and improve stress. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate activity. That’s 30 minutes a day. Do what you love – run, walk, garden, skate, dance. Whatever you choose to do, just get moving!

3. Eat a heart healthy diet

It’s important to eat a well-rounded diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein, and nuts and legumes. Limit sodium, saturated fat and added sugar. Remember, it’s not only about what you eat, but how much you eat. Keep in mind that portion size is important. 

Check out this guide to low sodium eating and how to lower blood pressure

Learn the 5 heart-healthy steps to work into your diet

4. Get good sleep

Sleep benefits many parts of your body. Good sleep leads to healing of tissues and blood vessels, a strong immune system, improved mood and energy, and better brain function. Getting ample sleep helps reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s important to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. 

Get some tips for better sleep from the American Heart Association

Check out the UC Davis Neurology Sleep Medicine Clinic

5. Partner with your medical team to make a plan for better health

It’s recommended that you see your primary care doctor at least 1-2 times a year to monitor your blood pressure, weight, blood sugar and cholesterol. Changes in these factors can lead to worsening heart disease. Talk to your medical team. Not only can they monitor and treat you for changes in your health, but they can also help you find resources to help you succeed in your journey to a long life.

Learn more about how you can work with your doctor and ask the right questions

Check out UC Davis Health’s classes to improve your heart health

Learn about the UC Davis Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program

This blog was written by Genevieve Fiore, a nurse practitioner at the UC Davis Health Cardiovascular Clinic.